Well, this morning Janine and I were scheduled to be on a plane heading for Colombia. Instead, Janine is sitting at home while I am about to head into Mexico and on an adventure through to the Copper Canyon. It just does not feel right but as she keeps assuring me, it is what it is. So, onward…
Dan, who met us last night in Douglas, had forgotten his Alberta registration which is necessary to prove ownership upon entering Mexico. He had checked the previous day with the Mexican authorities and was told a notarized copy should suffice. He had a copy faxed to the hotel and found a notary at the police station in Douglas. This took a little extra time this morning so it was perhaps 10:00AM before we reached the border.
At the border we parked the bikes behind the Mexican Customs & Immigration office. Inside, the girl at the desk, who spoke no English at all, seemed to be explaining that we needed visas because we were Canadians. A fellow stepped forward and interpreted for us; yes indeed, she was saying Canadians now need visas to enter Mexico. We must go to the Mexican Consulate in Douglas and apply for visas.
None of us had ever heard of this “new requirement” but we assumed this must be backlash from the recent decision in Canada requiring visas for Mexican citizens entering Canada.
So, back to the USA we go. However, we had only been in Mexico about half an hour. This raised a flag with US Border patrol. Were we just popping in to pick something up? Drugs perhaps?
Our passports were held by US customs and we were directed to the “Inspection Area”. There we sat and waited although there was some entertainment as watched them tearing apart a pick-up doing an inspection.
Finally they returned our passports and sent us on our way with no explanation. We found the Mexican Consulate, explained the situation and requested visas. The fellow there had never heard of such a requirement for Canadians and got on the phone. After 20 minutes or so he told us there are no visa requirements, go back to the border and don’t leave until we get our tourist permit, “Oh, and enjoy your visit to Mexico.”
Back to the border and the same lady who turned us away. She smiled and produced the permit forms, no questions asked. Once we had our permit forms filled out she sent us across to the Banjercito window to pay the tourist permit fee and the Temporary Vehicle Permit fee. This took some time as of course; each of us went through one by one. Total cost for both the Tourist Permit and the Vehicle Permit was $656 Mexican Peso which is about $50.00 CDN.
With four of us having our paper work in hand we were feeling pretty good; only Dan left to go now with his notarized copy of his registration. We saw the girl shaking her head. Not a good sign. After quite a bit of discussion she finally agreed to have another official look at it. Dan was taken to another office. He was then directed to get a signed declaration (I believe) and it had to be notarized. There was a broker’s office across the street where he proceeded to get the required documents.
In time he emerged from the Mexican Customs office with his permit in hand. There were smiles all around. The trip has begun.
Of course the ordeal at the border put us way behind. It had to be nearly 1:00PM when we hit the road to San Buenaventura, our destination for tonight.
The ride was all on fairly good pavement and went without incident although once again we rode into the cold night, through a bit of a scary construction zone in the dark, and arrived at San Buenaventura about 8:00 PM.
The best part of the day was a stop for lunch at a burrito stand. I just love Mexican food and this first taste of Mexico was just what I was looking forward to.